Wonders of Qatar on show to attract tourists<!-- -->


The first Qatar Summer Wonders festival got under way in Doha last month, with a spectacular display of laser show, fireworks and a grand parade depicting the country's history.

The month-long festival which ends on August 15, is targeted at Qatari, GCC and expatriate families.

Thousands of people thronged the seven-kilometre corniche of the capital city to watch the extravaganza.

"This will be an annual event," said Shaikh Sultan bin Jassem Al Thani, chairman of the Qatar General Tourism Authority (QGTA), the event organiser.

"It aims to introduce Qatar as a leading tourist and commercial destination and lays the groundwork for events as Qatar is also gearing up to host the Asian Games in 2006.

"Our main focus is to develop the country as a hub of tourism and commercial activities in the region."

All the events are being held at four major venues, including the three largest shopping malls - The Mall, Landmark and City Centre, and the Qatar International Exhibition Centre.

Some 600 local, regional and international companies are participating in addition to three leading hotels offering special rates.

Some of the activities and attractions at the festival include a circus, stilt walking, shows by clowns, high-wire performances, rides, in addition to a winter land and a rain forest besides a unique exhibition of classic cars including Rolls-Royces dating back to 1927, an ambulance van from the times of the first World War (1915-19) as well as the first car owned by the Royal Family of Thani, which was presented to the great grandfather of the Amir.

The official mascot of the festival is Bshara, an Arabian Oryx who continues to thrill crowds at the promotion sites.

Shoppers will be able to win QR1.3 million ($357,000) in weekly draws in addition to discounts at participating outlets.